The Magnetic Island Museum's latest exhibition , covering the colourful history of Olympus Crescent and its residents , specifically honouring the late Margaret Vine, was packed at the weekend opening.
Not many photos of Ms. Vine exist ; here she was taken on her comfortable sitting stone from which she could converse with nature .
As usual,the museum president, Zanita Davies , and her small band of enthusiastic supporters , produced a superb, well researched exhibition with an exceptional array of interesting related items on display.
Apart from the wealth of information about Olympus Crescent residents over the years , there are paintings , books , a clergyman's crucifix (bought at a garage sale ) , tools , jugs, a hunk of wood from the oriental shaped archway that once stood at an early island guest house but had been knocked down in a cyclone , bills , an album of Olympus Crescent photos damaged by Cyclone Althea , illustrated wall panels jam- packed with interest .
Putting the show together involved Ms. Davies in many late night sessions and a flurry of pre event activity on the premises .
By Peter Simon
In respect of Margaret Vine , an Australian art researcher who lived in 15 Olympus Crescent from 1998 until her death earlier this year , there is diverse coverage , a small set of binoculars which probably were used by her to watch opera , a bundle of green biros she used for editing (one for International Women's Day ) , a champagne flute, a tiny French Chanel sample perfume bottle , the tea towel from her kitchen designed by cartoonist, illustrator , writer and feminist (Women with Attitude series ) , Judy Horacek , with whom she had been on friendly terms.
Draped across a book awarded to Margaret as a school prize was a strange snake like object which was later identified for me as a green felt eel sold by the National Gallery of Australia , used by its staff , including Margaret when she worked there , as a book mark or when dealing with documents .
A small item, above, grabbed my attention . It was a metal spirit measure decorated with an Australian wildflower by the prominent Australian painter and print maker , Margaret Preston (1875-1963), regarded as one of Australia's leading modernists of the early 20th century , one of the first non Indigenous artists to use Aboriginal motifs in her works .
In one of her anecdotes Margaret Vine gave me , spread over several weeks, she told of walking all over the Sydney suburb of Mosman while researching the life of Preston , who spent from l919 to 1932 living there, the Sydney Harbour bridge and surrounds featuring in her paintings . She had virtually followed in the footsteps of the artist , checking on the buildings in the pictures and their owners who would have been there at the time .
The research into Preston's life had included trying to trace how the artist had met her husband , "Bill" , accounts just saying she had met him in 1919 , when she was returning from an exhibition at the Carnegie Institute in America , he a returned second lieutenant in the AIF, a successful businessman .
His war record had been studied along with shipping passenger lists . If my memory is correct , she had tracked down the boat on which they had been passengers . A shipboard romance ?
In any case, when they married on December 31 that year , the wedding certificate showed Margaret Preston, nee Margaret Rose Macpherson , born Adelaide, wrongly gave her birthdate on the wedding certificate , making her eight years younger than her husband .
Other items of interest include a copy of Ernest Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea , in a dustjacket, one of Glenville Pike's books on North Queensland history and an envelope addressed to Captain Drinkwater . A fascinating yarn is revealed by the display in which the Queensland Governor , Sir Henry Abel-Smith , seen suited below , took a liking to a brooch made in the shape of a fish , pictured, which belonged to an island resident, and was knocked back when he wanted to put it in the vice-regal kitbag .
There are many more interesting stories which could be written as a result of this fine exhibition . F'rinstance , Margaret Vine used to have a sign at her abode which could give the impression that it was a retreat for the British intelligence organisation,MI5. It is explained thus.